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Splurge or steal: Big kid booster seats

Should you break the bank or go cheap?

Your kiddo is ready to graduate from her five-point harness into a booster seat, but your head is spinning from all of the options available! And the toughest part? You can't distinguish between the ones that are under $50 and the ones that cost three times as much. Let us help you decide if you should go budget or break the bank on a booster seat.

Steal: Booster seats under $50

Evenflo booster seat

Featured: Evenflo AMP Performance No Back Booster (Target.com, $28)

With a super sleek, modern design and a price tag that makes your bank account give a huge sigh of relief, this booster seat hits the mark in style and in value. Moms will love that the seat cover is removable and machine washable for post-muddy soccer practice washes. Kids will love the flexible snack/cup holders on each side of the seat that will hold all sorts of interesting shaped treasures. The Evenflo AMP Performance No Back Booster is compatible with shoulder-style seat belts, making it easy to take in and out of your car during those busy weeks when you're running from activity to activity.

Check out these other options under $50:

Graco AFFIX Backless Youth Booster Seat (Diapers.com, $36)

Graco AFFIX booster

Check out this backless booster that is under $40 and includes the LATCH system. Having the adjustment straps on the front of the seat — not tucked in the back — makes a huge difference.

Cosco Juvenile Highrise Belt-Positioning Backless Booster Car Seat (Amazon.com, $20)

Cosco booster seat

At a price that can't be beat, this could be the perfect option to keep stashed in your car for play dates and last-minute car switches! Bonus points for having a flip-out cup/snack holder.

Splurge: Booster seats over $50

Clek Olli backless booster

Featured: Clek Olli Backless Booster Seat (Target.com, $120)

There's no doubt that this booster seat is cool thanks to that colorful, graphic printed cover by Paul Frank. However, the Clek Olli isn't all fun and monkey-themed games! Featuring a LATCH system to keep your child's booster snug up against the back of his seat, even during an accident, this safety feature is invaluable, as is its ability to do a "quick-release" when you need to pull the booster out of your car. While the cover of this booster isn't machine washable, the fabric is both water- and stain-resistant, as well as odor-, mildew- and bacteria-resistant, which will hopefully cut down on the amount you need to wash it in the first place.

Check out these other options over $50:

Diono SantaFe Backless Booster Seat (Diapers.com, $56)

Diono SantaFe Booster

One of the hottest boutique car seat brands, and also one of the most comfortable for kids, this booster features a longer seat to help support your little one's legs better.

Graco Backless TurboBooster Car Seat (Amazon.com, $77)

Graco TurboBooster

A seat that's always at the top of consumer-rated car seat lists, the TurboBooster is approved for children up to 100 pounds and 5-feet, 7-inches tall.

The verdict

Sometimes, picking the booster seat that's right for you has nothing to do with how much it costs and everything to do with the way it fits your child. Oftentimes, as you likely know from choosing a car seat for your child, a booster seat can be too slim for your child's liking or have arm rests that come up to high — and, as insignificant as these things may seem to you, they can mean the world to your children, who are the ones who will be using the seat. Give a few backless booster seats a test run in the store, or find a local children's store that will let you actually take a seat or two into your car in the parking lot, where your child can sit in them.

When it comes to the details of each booster seat, these are generally a simple piece of kid gear in the first place, so spending more won't necessarily get you added bells and whistles. There's something to be said, however, for the general comfort of a more expensive seat, which include better padding to help prevent sore rear ends after long car rides!

Please remember that the most important factor in choosing a booster seat is making sure that it is appropriate for the size and height of your child, as well as for the car you will be using it in. Please follow the guidelines provided by each seat.

More on car seats

Ali Landry speaks up for car seat safety
Safe and comfortable car seats
Past its prime: What to do with an expired car seat

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